The Days of Creation

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Simple in its phrasing yet far-reaching in its implications, Genesis 1:1 declares the beginning of all space, time, and matter in the cosmos ex nihilo, out of nothing.1,2 The centerpiece for most cosmological debates between religion and academia, this multi-faceted statement has faced a myriad of scrutiny in recent years, attracting the attention of both creationist and atheist, religious adherent and scientist.

Yet the prevalent topic of the deliberation revolves around the timing of such an occurrence, since the answer to such a question of how long it took to create the universe holds the answer to the ultimate question of who created it. One group holds to a young-earth interpretation while another group holds to an old-earth interpretation of the Genesis creation days. While not as impassioned as it is now, this debate goes back thousands of years with the early church fathers and other biblical scholars of the time interpreting the creation days of Genesis 1 as long periods of time – among whom were the Jewish historian Josephus, Irenaeus, Origen, Basil, Augustine, and Aquinas.3 The controversy began to polarize only a few hundred years ago when Archbishop Ussher’s creation date of October 28, 4004 B.C. began to clash with newly found scientific discoveries of the day that suggested an older creation date, some being propagated by evolutionist Charles Darwin. Atheists ran one direction in support of a billions-of-years-old universe advocating for the latest evolutionary theory, while young-earth creationists ran the other direction in order to uphold Ussher’s chronology. In doing so, the young-earth creationists ended up rejecting anything that appeared to validate a belief in an old-earth as they likened it to confirming evolution. In a sense, Ussher’s chronology became the new dogma of Christianity, thus opening the floodgates of scientific rebuttal and a societal belief in Biblical irrationalism held by a majority of scientists today and echoed by the atheist populace alike. Yet in reality, science and the Bible are not at odds, but work together in harmony towards the same goal, both addressing “human curiosity about our origins and [involving] a form of faith in the intelligibility of the universe.”4 For it was the same creator who formed both the Bible and the record of nature, therefore the two should agree with each other.

The early church fathers held to an understanding of an old earth. What were their reasons for doing so? These men were not influenced by the beliefs of people like Ussher and Darwin and yet they took a position that today seems in direct opposition to the young-earth proponents of today’s Christian faith. In their analysis, these men used the greatest text that was at their disposal – the Bible. Correctly interpreting the text is the same now as it was then, requiring proper definition of words, verifying Hebrew grammar, understanding context, and cross-checking with other relevant passages of scripture. In the present age, we have also been granted an additional verification, the record of nature, that we can use to help solidify the centuries old argument on the length of the creation days. As we analyze the Genesis creation account, we will not only see how long creation days are possible, but are also in compliance with modern science.

Part of the reason for the ambiguous interpretation of the creation account has to do with the translation of the word yowm, translated day. Hugh Ross points out that the Hebrew word yowm, can indicate four different periods of time: “a) from sunrise to sunset, b) from sunset to sunset, c) a segment of time without any reference to solar days (usually several years), and d) an age or epoch.”5 When Ussher bestowed his chronology upon the world, he solidified in the minds of many people that only the second definition fit the context, disregarding the other three. However, the Bible uses this same Hebrew word, yowm, in all instances, including a long period of time. Genesis 2:4, is one such example. It reads, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”6 In this passage, the author summarizes all six creation days into one all-encompassing day. He went further in his pronouncement by also including the word generations (toledah). Hebrew lexicons note that toledah “refers to the time it takes a baby to become a parent or to a time period arbitrarily longer.”7 The length of time ascribed to each segment was the time that each took to come to maturity. For this word to be included in its plural form, in the same context as yowm, implies that several periods of “ripening” had occurred. In each day-age, the Lord caused a specific event to occur – whether it was the separation of the waters to form the atmosphere and oceans, or the process of building up the continents from out of the oceans.

Similar instances of yowm being translated as a long period of time occur throughout the Bible. The use of the term “the day of the Lord” is a frequent occurrence in both the Old and New Testaments. It typically refers to an unspecified period of time in accordance with the fulfillment of prophecy. Hosea 6:2 also follows this same interpretation, “After two days he [God] will revive us [Israel]; on the third day he will raise us up.”8 Also Isaiah 17:11, “In the day you will make your plant to grow, and in the morning you will make your seed to flourish; but the harvest will be a heap of ruins in the day of grief and desperate sorrow.”9 In all these instances, the term day is being used as a long measurement of time, just as we use it in English when we say, “in my father’s day” or “in the day of the dinosaurs.” The writers of the Bible utilized the word in all its forms, but the key to the correct interpretation of the word in Genesis 1 is the context in which the author used it. The fourth creation day will help to shed light on the proper interpretation.

According to the young-earth interpretation, the sun, moon, and stars were created on the fourth day. This theory presents a difficulty for the first three days of creation when the days are measured as 24-hour periods in the absence of a celestial time clock. Augustine, a fifth-century theologian, also noted this dilemma and is referenced in a Catholic catechism which reads: “the six ‘days’ of creation could hardly have been solar days such as we now know, for according to the account in Genesis the sun was not made until the fourth ‘day.’”10 The young-earth theory also posits that prior to the fourth day, the universe and all that was in it had not yet been created. The Earth would have existed as a solitary entity in a limited space of existence with the light that shone upon it being God’s light. In the absence of any celestial forces, such as gravity, planetary rotation, and orbital path, God made a temporary substitution of physics to make it work as though they did exist. While God has the ability to create the universe this way, a reading of the text in the original Hebrew dispels the belief that he did. The Hebrew words bara’ and asa translate to “create,” “make,” and “fashion” or “form,” respectively and correspond with the creation of birds, mammals, humans, and the universe. However, a different word is used to refer to the first day’s command, “let there be light” and the fourth day’s “let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens” – the verb, haya. The word haya means “exist, be, happen, or come to pass.”11 The difference between the verbs highlights the contrast between the commands God gave to either create, make, or cause something to happen. In the instance of the light on creation day four, the verb indicates that God caused the sun, moon, and stars to appear.

In order to understand this better, we must first understand the frame of reference the author has chosen to use to impart the creation story. In his book Science & Faith, C. John Collins tell us that the words “heaven” and “earth” in Genesis 1:1 refer to all matter, but verse two narrows the meaning of “heavens” and “earth” to “sky” and “land.”12 This implies that the point of view has changed from looking at the whole cosmos and is now focusing in on planet Earth. We see verification of this in the second verse when the author tells us that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”13 Unfortunately, many commentators incorrectly assume the point of view for these passages is above the Earth, looking down upon it. This leads to the misunderstanding we have noted above about the Sun, Moon, and stars not existing before the fourth creation day. However, if we position ourselves in the same location as the author of Genesis intended, then the darkness that the Spirit of God experienced as he hovered over the waters, begins to make sense. A thick blanket of cloud cover, impenetrable by light, covered the planet on day one. God’s rhetorical question to Job confirms this in Job 38:8-9 when he asks, “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness?”14 During creation day one, when God calls, “let there be light,” he caused the sun to illuminate the Earth through the clouds for the first time in Earth’s primal history. The atmosphere went from opaque to translucent, letting in enough light to establish visibility on the surface for distinguishing between day and night, but it wasn’t until the fourth creation day that the translucence of the atmosphere became transparent. On the fourth creation day, God called out “let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years.”15 It was at this command that the cloud covering rolled away from the Earth so that the Sun, Moon, and stars could become visible in the night sky. These first four creation days laid the groundwork for preparing the planet to support life that God ultimately brought forth on subsequent days.

Another complication arises in the interpretation of the “evening” and “morning” phrases that accompany each of the creation days. In view of the young-earth interpretation, it is assumed that the phrase represents the culmination of 24-hours, but if read in that way, the passage specifies that the work of creating only took place at night, as an evening followed by a morning only make up the darkness portion of the 24-hour cycle. As we already saw, the young-earth view also assumes the Sun, Moon, and stars were not created until the fourth day. So the first three days of creation would not have been privy to a morning sunrise and evening sunset in the absence of the Sun and orbital rotation.

The obscurity of the wording in this passage requires a second look in its original language. The Hebrew word, ‘ereb, translated evening, can also mean “sunset,” “night,” or “ending of the day,” while boqer, translated morning, also means “sunrise,” “coming of light,” “beginning of day,” or “dawning.”16 Perhaps it is better to ask the question what then did the “evening” and “morning” phraseology mean to the ancient Hebrew? James Skillen explains that the evening-morning phrase appears to work in the same way that other all-embracing Hebrew phrases work. “For example, the phrase ‘the heavens and the earth’ in Genesis 1 means everything God created. Elsewhere, ‘the law and the prophets’ refers to all of Scripture. The evening-morning phrase appears to serve, a similar purpose… refer[ing] to everything entailed in God’s separation of the dry land from the seas and every kind of plant and tree that grows on the land and reproduces after its kind.”17 In other words, an “’evening’ and ‘morning’ refer to the beginning and ending of a day, whatever definition of ‘day’ applies. For example, ‘in my grandfather’s day’ refers to the time period surrounding his lifetime. The morning and evening of his lifetime would be my grandfather’s youth and old age.”18 In the case of the creation days, the order of the words, “evening” followed by “morning,” implies the ending of one age, followed by the dawning of the next.

As the sixth day closed God’s creative works, the seventh day opened into God’s time of rest. The evening-morning phrase that was present in the first six days is unmistakably absent on the seventh. This leaves the seventh day without an evening, or closing. Based upon the similar structure of the creation days, the omission of the evening-morning phrase on the seventh day strongly suggests that the day has not yet ended. Other writers of the Bible confirm this in their writings. In Psalm 95, David wrote, “Therefore I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest.”19 Here David refers to God’s rest as an event that was ongoing. Hebrews gives another example, “‘On the seventh day God rested from all his works.’ … It still remains for some to enter that rest. … There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.”20 The writer of Hebrews explains the tenses of God’s rest – that it is complete, yet also present and still to come. He rested from his work (past), the faithful enter that rest (present), and those who are still living can choose to enter that rest (future).21 The connection the author is making is that God’s seventh day is of long duration that began shortly after the creation of Adam and Eve and continues even to this day, yet still referred to as a day in parallel form and context of the other six days.

The seven-day week that the patriarchs followed and that we follow to this day, was patterned after the creation week. Does this imply that God’s creation week was of the same duration as man’s work week? Hebrew scholar Gleason Archer reports the creation week as this: an analogy between God’s work “week” and man’s work week.

He states, “By no means does this demonstrate that 24-hour intervals were involved in the first six ‘days,’ any more than the 8-day celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles proves that the wilderness wanderings under Moses occupied only eight days.”22 The week of creation was written in such a way to be analogous to man’s week. “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.”23 The analogy extends into the way the author structured the text with the first three days parallel days four, five and six, respectively. That is, God’s creative works of light occurred on days one and four; his works of water and atmosphere corresponded with the creation of fish and birds on days two and five; and creation of land and land creatures on days three and six. Young-earth creationists contend that this week took 168 hours, or seven literal 24-hour days to complete. However, this view is inconsistent with God’s second revelation of himself to us through nature.

The Bible was not intended to be written as a book of science, but a book of man’s salvation, yet even still, many passages lend themselves to aiding the quest of cosmological beginnings given present-day scientific knowledge. Nature’s record has not been more manifest for us today than at any time in mankind’s past. It is only now in the present age, that we have been granted the opportunity to observe the many wonders of the cosmos with the aid of modern science. Yet contrary to the young-earth view that rejects a variety of scientific evidences due to their inconceivable long-duration, this data does not reject God’s existence, but keeps coming back to and eagerly pointing to God’s pronouncement of a beginning in Genesis 1:1. One of the evidences that does this is the discovery of what has come to be known as the Big Bang. For nearly one hundred years, information has been pouring in to us from the night skies, allowing astronomers to document and track the heavens, even peering back to a point near the beginning of time, when darkness separated from light.24

The first theoretical evidence for the Big Bang dates back to 1916 when Albert Einstein first noted that his theory of general relativity predicted that the universe was expanding. Tracing the expansion of the universe backwards indicated that it had an originating point from which the entire universe came. This bang was not a random chaotic explosion, but a “carefully planned and controlled release of matter, energy, space, and time within the strict confines of very carefully fine-tuned physical constraints and laws that govern their behavior and interactions.”25 The Big Bang shattered the once held belief of atheists and skeptics alike that the cosmos was eternal. The static, infinite universe of which the evolutionary theory of Darwin’s day was based on became obsolete. The fact that there was a beginning, demanded a cause and a creator. Confirmation of this incredible event came from the findings of the Cosmic Background explorer (COBE) satellite in 1989.26

The satellite detected what scientists had predicted would need to exist in the instance that the Big Bang had taken place, temperature differentials in the background radiation of the night sky that were consistent with the left over radiation of the hot big bang event. This stunning confirmation caused scientists like George Smoot to proclaim, “What we have found is evidence for the birth of the universe. …It’s like looking at God.”27,28 Pope Pius XII exclaimed, “with that concreteness which is characteristic of physical proofs, [science] has confirmed the contingency of the universe and also the well-founded deduction as to the epoch when the world came forth from the hands of the Creator. Hence, creation took place.”29 The discovery of the Big Bang compelled many scientists to admit that there was a beginning and some believed, at least in part, that Genesis 1:1 was true.

The data gathered from later observations have been of such high-quality that it is also helping to bring to light data about the cosmological constant, the self-stretching property of the universe. Science wasn’t the first to hit upon this idea of a stretched out universe. Besides the testament of a beginning in Genesis 1:1, the Bible also describes the miraculous cosmic stretching of the universe that we observe today. Isaiah 42:5 describes the creation and stretching of the heavens: “Thus says God the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out.”30 This reference of cosmic stretching is found in eleven different verses throughout the Old Testament: Job 9:8, Psalm 104:2, Isaiah 40:22, 42:5, 44:24, 45:12, 48:13, 51:13, Jeremiah 10:12, 51:15, and Zechariah 12:1. Isaiah 40:22, in particular, highlights the fact that the stretching out of the heavens is both finished and ongoing. God is continuing to stretch them out after already stretching them out at its beginning.

In addition to astronomical evidences, other sciences swell in mounting testimony for an old-earth creation date. The fossil record attests to the long duration of the creative days. According to the record, life was in existence before man and the number of introductions of life closely balanced with the number of extinctions. Once mankind was introduced on the sixth day, new life ceased to be introduced and the number of extinctions began to climb.31 Biologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich note, “The production of a new animal species in nature has yet to be documented.” Moreover, “…in the vast majority of cases, the rate of change is so slow that it has not even been possible to detect an increase in the amount of differentiation.”32 Evolution cannot explain the introduction of new animal species in an already evolved state, such as what happened during the Cambrian Explosion over 500 million years ago, but the long creation days of Genesis can. God was introducing irreducibly complex life forms to the planet for six days, then ceased from his labors on the seventh day. The seventh day of rest from creation continues to this day, thus the absence of a debut of any new animal species from the sixth day onward.

Layered records also hold clues to the age of our Earth. The ice cores of Greenland show us this record in layers of years laid down as sheets of ice. This glacial timetable goes way back into Earth’s past, detailing 110,000 years of atmospheric changes and weather conditions. Coral reef layers record not only years, but also individual days in their bands. This 400 million-year-old record affirms that at that time, Earth’s rotation rate was only twenty hours long, instead of the present day’s twenty-four hour cycle.33 God made his record of nature available to us “for since the creation of the world his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that [we] are without excuse.”34

Even with all these and many more evidences presented, some young-earth creationists still like to hold on to the young-earth interpretation for fear of reprisal. The young-earth theory has been so engrained in the minds of creationists that to think otherwise demands rebuke from the religious community. In an attempt to rectify Ussher’s creation date with recently uncovered geologic evidence for an ancient earth, Philip Gosse proposed a radical new theory that suggested God created the Earth only a short time ago, but gave it the appearance of age. Gosse tried to bridge the gap that combines both aspects of young-earth and old-earth interpretations, but in the process made neither acceptable. Gosse made the claim that the natural records were falsified to show the existence of a past that had not happened. He professed that tree rings were made to appear in a tree, when the years they were meant to identify never took place.35 The implications of his theory run the gamut of the sciences leaving Gary North to conclude if one holds to this theory then “the universe is an illusion.”36 Yet the appearance of age theory is a consolation to many who try to rectify the overwhelming scientific evidence for a billion-of-years-old universe with the belief in a six-thousand-year-old earth. God’s character testifies to us that he is not a deceiver, but the essence of truth. If God gave us a falsified record of the cosmos, how could we prove its veracity with any certainty?

The centuries-old debate regarding the age of the cosmos is one of great importance to understanding not only how the universe came to be, but who was responsible for it. The discovery of the Big Bang was probably one of the most noteworthy in the field of cosmology at any time past or present. Unfortunately, the stance of many young-earth adherents has been to reject many of the scientific evidences which essentially necessitate the need for a creator. This rejection has caused many in secular society to question the beliefs of those who hold this view, the majority of whom are Christians. Ross asks, “If the Church demonstrates itself unreliable in interpreting scientific data, which are subject to objective verification, how can it be trusted to handle biblical statements on spiritual matters that cannot be objectively verified?”37 In other words, if people cannot believe what they sees with their own eyes, then how can they expect others to trust that which is believed by faith? Sadly, this shunning of science has caused many in secular society today to regard Christianity as an irrational doctrine, practiced by weak-minded individuals. Instead of dismissing the evidences God has left us in nature’s record, we should embrace them as powerful revelations to mankind of the awesome works of his hands. These evidences ought to act “as powerful aids in convincing unbelievers that God exists and that the Bible is his accurate, authoritative Word.”38 Former atheist Lee Strobel was one such recipient who embraced what the record of nature was trying to tell him. He studied the evidences for himself and came to the conclusion that, “If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God.”39

Several Bible authors impress upon their audiences the importance of testing the facts to make sure what is said is true. Moses told the Israelites to test a person who claims to be a prophet.40 Paul told the Thessalonians to test everything and to hold fast to what is good.41 He also praised the Bereans in Acts 17 who were examining the Scriptures daily to see if the things that Paul told them was true.42 In the same way, we should test the record of nature against God’s word as Strobel did to see if it is true. When we do, what we will see is that the creation days harmonize beautifully with the record of nature. With the aforementioned considerations in mind, the creation account needs to be reanalyzed. Properly defining and contextualizing the Hebrew words yowm (day), haya (come to pass), ’ereb (evening), and boqer (morning) no longer require endorsement of Ussher’s erroneous chronology of seven 24-hour days. Placing ourselves in the same frame of reference as the author gives us proper context from which we can understand the appearance of the Sun, Moon, and stars, not their unorthodox creation on the fourth day. When we understand that God’s rest continues even now, it helps to reinforce the idea of long creation days and an old-earth interpretation. Nature’s record, which God has left for us as a second revelation, should only work to strengthen our faith in his written word, not depose it. Likewise, science and the Bible should work in harmony with each other, not in opposition, for harmony is one of the first demands of truth and truth exists in the discernment of an old earth from a young earth.43


1. “Ex nihilo,” Wikipedia, accessed July 1, 2013,
2. Henry M. Morris, Biblical Creationism, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1993), 17.
3. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1989), 141.
4. Laura E. Bothwell, “Genesis meets the big bang and evolution, absent design,” Cross Currents 57, no. 1 (March 1, 2007): 10-17, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed June 18, 2013), 10.
5. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1989), 147.
6. “Genesis 2:4 (ESV),”, accessed July 1, 2013,
7. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1989), 150-151.
8. “Hosea 6:2 (ESV),”, accessed July 1, 2013,
9. “Isaiah 17:11 (NKJV),”, accessed July 1, 2013,
10. Louis Lavallee, “Augustine on the creation days,” Journal Of The Evangelical Theological Society 32, no. 4 (December 1, 1989): 457-464, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed June 18, 2013), 457.
11. “Strong’s H1254-bara’,” “Strong’s H6213,-asa,” “Strong’s H1961-hayah,” Blue Letter Bible, accessed July 2, 2013,
12. C. John Collins, Science and Faith: Friends or Foes?, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 64.
13. “Genesis 1:2 (ESV),”, accessed July 2, 2013,
14. “Job 38:8-9 (NIV),”, accessed July 2, 2013,
15. “Genesis 1:14 (NASB),”, accessed July 3, 2013,
16. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1989), 147.
17. James W. Skillen, “The seven days of creation,” Calvin Theological Journal 46, no. 1 (April 1, 2011): 111-139, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed June 18, 2013), 120-121.
18. Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 2004), 74.
19. “Psalm 95:11 (ESV),”, accessed July 5, 2013,
20. “Hebrews 4:4-10 (NIV),”, accessed July 5, 2013,
21. James W. Skillen, “The seven days of creation,” Calvin Theological Journal 46, no. 1 (April 1, 2011): 111-139, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed June 18, 2013), 113, 115-116.
22. Gleason L. Archer, “A Response to the Trustworthiness of Scripture in Areas Relating to Natural Science,” in Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible, ed. Earl D. Radmacher and Robert D. Preus (Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986), 329, cited in Ross, The Fingerprint of God, 153.
23. “Exodus 20:11 (NIV),”, accessed July 5, 2013,
24. David Berlinski, “Was There a Big Bang,” Commentary 105, no. 2 (February 1, 1998): 28-38, ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed June 18, 2013), 28.
25. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 2001), 27-28.
26. “COBE Satellite Marks 20th Anniversary,” NASA, accessed July 5, 2013,
27. Lee Siegel, The Associated Press, “’What we have found is evidence for the birth of the universe,’” Daily News, Bowling Green, KY, April 23, 1992,, 10-A.
28. Thomas H. Maugh II, “Relics of ‘Big Bang’ Seen for 1st Time: Cosmos: Research confirms that explosion started the universe,” Los Angeles Times, April 24, 1992,
29. Paul McCaffrey, ed., The Reference Shelf: Faith and Science, (Ipswich, MA: H.W.Wilson, 2013), 173-174.
30. “Isaiah 42:5 (NASB),”, accessed July 6, 2013,
31. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1989), 149.
32. Olivia Cameo Lewis, “Mr. Darwin’s Confusionism,” Art Cellar, accessed July 5, 2013,
33. Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 2004), 183.
34. “Romans 1:20 (NASB),”, accessed July 7, 2013,
35. Ron Roizen, “The Rejection of Omphalos: A Note on Shifts in the Intellectual Hierarchy of Mid-Nineteenth Century Britain,”, accessed July 7, 2013,
36. Gary North, Sovereignty and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Genesis Volume 2, (Dallas, GA: Point Five Press, 2012),, 338.
37. Hugh Ross, A Matter of Days, (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 2004), 173.
38. Ibid, 148.
39. Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 86.
40. “Deut 18:21-22,”, accessed July 8, 2013,
41. “1 Thes 5:21 (ESV),”, accessed July 8, 2013,
42. “Acts 17:11,”, accessed July 8, 2013,
43. Prof. D.R. Dungan, Hermeneutics, (Delight, AK: Gospel Light Publishing Company), 83.

Where Was The Genesis Flood?


We are not told where human civilization began, but we are given several hints throughout other culture’s documented flood accounts, archaeological evidence, and the Biblical account of the events during the flood that we can piece together to form a plausible theory for the location of the great flood of Noah. This is just one of many theories that exists to determine the location of the Genesis flood talked about in the Bible.

The theory: At the onset of the flood, water begins pouring over the Gibraltar dam, slowly at first then building to a rapid torrent of tsunami proportions as the Atlantic Oceans pours in. At the same time, God brings the rain to rain upon the land. The land shakes and geysers spring up from underneath. The people are swept away by the swiftness of the water. It comes so fast and so hard that no man can stand against it. They have no time to run for the mountains to escape its fury.

As we see in the story of Atrahasis, “Its power came upon the peoples like a battle, one person did not see another, they could not recognize each other in the catastrophe. The deluge belowed like a bull…” and in the Epic of Gilgamesh,

“all day long the South Wind blew, blowing fast – and then the Flood came, overwhelming the people like an attack. No one could see his fellow, they could not recognize each other in the torrent.” This wasn’t a calm and steady rising of a level basin, rising between mountains like water in a bathtub. This was a catastrophe of Biblical proportions that washed the land clean, wiping out any man and animal in its path.

The flood waters swarm the Mediterranean basin, catastrophically raising the sea level for the people living there. With no where else to go, the torrent breaks through to the Black Sea at the Strait of Bosporus, which had prior been a fresh water lake. It rushes over the lowlands of Egypt and into the Red Sea. It flows over the fertile crescent to engulf the land of Mesopotamia. The Ark, caught up in the raging waters, gets pushed back into a pocket of calm water along the mountains of Ararat where it safely rides out the remainder of the onslaught. God sends a wind that causes the waters to gradually recede from the land and dry them out.

The terrain of the land is well suited to support such a deluge. The high mountains on the east of the fertile crescent help to contain and channel away the water, while providing a safe resting place for the ark to wait out the storm.

As we will see below, the Mediterranean Sea is unsustainable without the constant influx of water from the Atlantic Ocean. Without the oceanic movement of water into the Mediterranean, the sea would dry up due to the insufficient amount of water from the rivers that flow into it and the hot climatic conditions of the region. Deep sea drilling by geologists, also mentioned below, located the rock salt deposits and subsequent sedimentary layers which shows that the Mediterranean basin has sustained evaporation, and periods of low sea levels.

The flux of water flowing into the Mediterranean may have been due to several factors including: Ice Age glaciation and warming, tectonic activity, and the damming and opening of the Straits of Gibraltar. Whatever the cause, it appears that during the recent past, within the time frame of man, the Mediterranean was at a low sea level.


The Sumerian King List is a manuscript of ancient origin listing the kings of Sumer (southern Mesopotamia), their reign lengths, and the location of the “official” kingship which was believed to be handed down by the gods.1 The list divides the early history of Mesopotamia into two sections: the reign of the pre-flood antediluvian kings (beginning at Eridu), and the reign of the post-flood kings (beginning at Kish).2

The Weld-Blundell Prism
Image Source

“The ancient compilers of the King List regarded the Noachian Flood as an event that made a breach in the continuity of Mesopotamian history; certain cities suddenly being made desolate, while other cities were rebuilt on the ruins of the flood.”2

The Weld-Blundell Prism is a clay four sided object, each side being about 20cm high and 9cm wide. Inscribed on it is the most complete surviving list of the Sumerian kings from c. 3200-1800 BCE.3 At the end of the Eridu reign of kings, it states “then the flood swept over.” The Kish list begins “after the flood had swept over, and the kingship had descended from heaven, the kingship was in Kish.”4 Before the flood, the long lifespan of the kings resembled that of which is found in Genesis and after the flood, they are dramatically shortened.

This interruption in the chronology dates to approximately 2900 BC. Archeological digs in the southern portion of Mesopotamia (Iraq) revealed evidence of localized flooding at Shuruppak (modern Tell Fara, Iraq) and various other Sumerian cities. A sedimentery layer radiocarbon dated to ca. 2900 BC interrupts the continuity of settlement, extending as far north as the city of Kish. Additionally, polychrome pottery from the Jemdet Nasr period (3000-2900 BC) was discovered immediately below the Shuruppak flood stratum.1


Archaeology shows that humans once lived in a world with a lower Mediterranean sea level. A few of many examples are: 1) ancient structures underneath the Black Sea, 2) an entrance to a cave with human paintings that are only accessible today by divers, 3) the Egyptian Sphinx that shows water erosion in a desert, 4) an underwater Maltese temple, 5) the sinking of the Aegean Sea, 6) and writings by Plato about the “lost island of Atlantis” which may not be as fabled as some believe.

The Black Sea

The Black Sea, located just north of the Mediterranean Sea, is connected to the ocean waters by the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus straits. The Dardanelles is 55m (180.45 ft) deep and the Bosphorus is 36m (118.11 ft).5

The Black Sea used to be a freshwater lake according to Columbia University Professor William Ryan. Studies of the flow patterns and geology of the straits of the Bosporus indicate that at one time the area had a land bridge where water from the Mediterranean could not pass into. Professor Ryan, believes the Black Sea experienced a sudden “environmental catastrophe,” when salt water flowed into the lake. Evidence of an abrupt change in the fauna is found from samples taken on the basin floor.6

The freshwater Black Sea basin was also home to an ancient civilization which no longer exists, the evidence of which is found underwater along the coastlines of the Black Sea where man-made structures were found in 100m (328 ft) of water.5

“Recent explorations have turned up direct evidence that the Black Sea (which lies north and west of the Mountains of Ararat) was once a fertile valley inhabited by many people. Geological studies of the Black Sea done by the Russian research vessel Aquanaut have revealed that this region was once a much smaller fresh water lake hundreds of feet below the present sea level.

The shore line of that lake was surrounded with villages and core samples estimate an age (via radioactive Carbon dating) that places the demise of those cultures around the same time as generally accepted for Noah’s deluge, roughly 5000 years ago.”7

Led by Robert Ballard, a team of marine archaeologists identified what appeared to be “ancient shorelines, freshwater snail shells, drowned river valleys, tool-worked timbers, and man-made structures in roughly 100 metres (330 ft) of water off the Black Sea coast of modern Turkey.”8

Cosquer Cave – French Cave Paintings

The Cosquer Cave is located in France, on the Mediterranean Sea. What is unique about this cave is that “the only entrance to the cave is through a tunnel that is 125 feet (37m) below the water and 575 feet long. This long, sloping tunnel leads to the large, air-filled main chamber of the cave.”9 Inside the cave are no less than 125 paintings of animals, and 55 depictions of hands.10

The Cosquer Cave is one of many caves found in France with the same type of art. Some of the animals depicted in these renderings are now extinct, such as the Irish Elk.11 The latest remains of which have been radiocarbon dated to about 7,700 years ago.12

The Egyptian Sphinx

The Egyptian Sphinx lies in the Northern part of Egypt on the Giza Plateau. It was carved out of limestone and bears the likeness of a lions body with the head of a man.

The Great Sphinx of Giza
Image Source

There are several different theories as to its origins. The first is that it was built by Pharaoh Khafra (c. 2558–2532 BC), the builder of the second pyramid at Giza.13 However, the evidence for this is circumstantial as the statue does not bear the inspection of the pharoah. The second theory holds that the Sphinx pre-dates the pyramids and that Khafra found the structure and unearthed it.

The French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero surveyed the Sphinx in 1886 and concluded:

“The Sphinx stela shows, in line thirteen, the cartouche of Khephren.14 I believe that to indicate an excavation carried out by that prince, following which, the almost certain proof that the Sphinx was already buried in sand by the time of Khafre14 and his predecessors [i.e. Dynasty IV, c. 2575–2467 BC].”15

If the Sphinx was not built by Pharaoh Khafra, then where did it come from? One theory suggests that a people who live in the area before the Egyptian’s built it. The Sphinx was last uncovered from the desert sand at the turn of the 20th century and it must constantly be worked at to keep it clear. If it was left to itself, it would be covered by sand again in as little as fifty years.16

So what caused the erosion of the Sphinx? Dr. Robert Schoch, professor of geology at Boston University, was asked to evaluate the nature of the erosion of the Sphinx.

“After careful investigation, Schoch concluded that the “weathering” of the Sphinx was done by water, rather than by wind and sand as commonly believed; that it was first created back during the alluvial period toward the end of the Ice Age when Egypt was experiencing copious amounts of rainfall; and that the Sphinx must be at least 7,000 years old.”16

On the day of the Spring equinox in the year 10,500 B.C., the Sphinx would be looking at the constellation Leo the lion in the morning sky. It is also argued that the head of the Sphinx was originally the head of a lion.16 A London University geologist and Egyptologist, Colin Reader noticed that the Egyptian head we see today is too small in proportion to the body of the Sphinx. In addition, the face is not as eroded as the body, even though it should be more so since it has been exposed to weather. Reader believes the head of the original sphinx has been re-sculpted from a lion’s head into an Egyptian pharaoh-style head.16 It is believed that an unknown culture may have sculpted it in the Predynastic times – the evidence of which may lie on several pieces of Predynastic ivory labels seen here (under “A Predynastic Sphinx”).

Regardless of its origins, the Sphinx apppears to have the signs of water erosion, as opposed to sand and wind. Since the Egyptian desert only receives 1″ annually of rainfall, this alone would not support its degredation.17

“According to Schoch, the area has experienced a mean annual rainfall of approximately one inch (2.5 cm) since the Old Kingdom (c. 2686–2134 BC), such that, since Egypt’s last period of significant rainfall ended between the late fourth and early 3rd millennium BC, the Sphinx’s construction must date to the 6th millennium BC or 5th millennium BC.”17

A significant source of water was involved in its erosion, compounded by rain.

Submerged Temples of Malta

The island of Malta lies in the heart of the Mediterranean. Just off the coast of Malta (about 1.5 miles out) and under 19m of water, lie the ruins of what appears to be a temple, named Gebel Gol-Bahar. This find is however controversial as not much investigation has been done on the site. It is claimed that the structures found are kidney shaped and resemble those that can be seen on land today. An 7-minute underwater video of this temple can be seen here.

“Malta has huge ancient structures that are now dated as 9,000 years old or older and are said by orthodox archaeologists to be the oldest stone ruins in the world. Malta is now a small rocky island that once had elephants and shows evidence of having been destroyed in a huge cataclysmic wave.”18

The Lost Island of Atlantis

In about 360 BC, Plato wrote about a lost “continent” named Atlantis. According to the story, Atlantis became corrupt and greedy and the Gods decided to destroy them. A violent earthquake ensued, bringing giant waves that engulfed the land and the city of Atlantis sank into the sea never to be seen again. Does this sound familiar?

“There were earthquakes and floods of extraordinary violence, and in a single dreadful day and a night…the island of Atlantis was…swallowed up by the sea and vanished.” –Plato Timaeus and Critias

It is presumed that Plato took some artistic license to write the story, but there remains enough factual details that the island of Atlantis is believed by some to be a real place. Plato also talked about the formation of the Greek Islands and Aegean Sea from the devastating earthquake and flood that destroyed Atlantis at this same time.

“The consequence is, that in comparison of what then was, there are remaining only the bones of the wasted body, as they may be called, as in the case of small islands, all the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away, and the mere skeleton of the land being left.”19

Greece, before the “extraordinary inundation”
Image Source

Greece, “after the “extraordinary inundation”
“…the mere skeleton of the land being left.” ~Plato

He also tells of abundant fountains and springs of fresh water in the fertile plain of Attica. One theorist suggests that the “increased hydraulic pressure from tidal waves in the Black Sea, possibly aided by the earthquake and aftershocks, catastrophically fractured the proposed subterranean outflow channel into the Mediterranean Sea. The subterranean channel ruptured from the hydraulic pressure of the surging waters within the channel beneath. A series of three magnificent fountains, as geysers, broke through the fractures and erupted in the heartland of Attica. The hydraulic pressure of the immense geysers excavated the present-day Sea of Marmara.”20


In the 1970s, while looking for a seismic feature in the Mediterranean Sea, geologists drilling 3,000m into the sea floor happened across a layer of salt sandwiched between sedimentary layers.21 Halite (or rock salt) forms in large beds of sedimentary evaporite minerals that result from the drying up of enclosed lakes, playas, and seas.22 On top of this salt layer, a thick layer of anhydrite was found – an evaporite rock common in salt basins.23 This rock and salt layer were subsequently found across the Mediterranean. This era of salt deposition is referred to as the Messinian Salinity Crisis.

The salt layer found in the Mediterranean Sea formed when all the water had evaporated from the basin.
Image Source

The geography and climate of the Mediterranean basin does not allow the survival of a sea without the Atlantic Ocean flowing into it. The rivers which flow into the basin do not have enough volume to support the heavy evaporation that occurs to the water in this area.

“The dry and hot Mediterranean basin has been an area with a negative precipitation-evaporation budget for millions of years. Without a significant inflow of Atlantic Ocean water, the Mediterranean Sea cannot be sustained.”23

The salt layer meant that the Mediterranean Sea had been exposed to the salty ocean, its water source then cut off and then its waters evaporated, leaving the salt behind. The Messinian Salinity Crisis came to an end with the deposit of the next layer of sedimentary rock, laid down by what is known as the Zanclean flood.


The Zanclean Flood is theorized to have occurred directly after the Messinian Salinity Crisis about 5 million years ago, based on the subsequent sedimentary rocks layers which lay above the salt layers in the Mediterranean Sea. The theory states that the Straits of Gibraltar were opened to allow the Atlantic Ocean to pour in at a rate that would fill up the Mediterranean Sea in a matter of months to two years

Sedimentary deposits in the Mediterranean basin
Image Source

from its dried state, rising greater than 10 meters per day.24

Scientific studies revealed a 200 km long channel at the Gibraltar Strait that was carved by flood waters. The water descended not like a waterfall, but more like a ramp into the Mediterranean. The velocity is calculated to have been about 300km per hour and may have been triggered by tectonic subsidence.25

The Zanclean Flood may have not been the first and only of its kind. It is believed that the Straits of Gibraltar have been closed and reopened in the past, especially in more recent history.

“There is general acceptance that, on more than one occasion, the Strait of Gibraltar was closed completely. Tectonic plate movement, worldwide sea level drops due to the onset of Ice Age glaciation or a combination of both, could have caused this. There is also clear undisputed evidence that the Mediterranean Sea has dried out completely on a number of occasions. What is not clear is when the last desiccation or partial drying-out of the Mediterranean ended. The conventional date given for the last breaching of a Gibraltar Dam is 5 million years ago. However, there is a small but growing opinion that there was a more recent breach of a dam within the memory of modern man and preserved in his history and myth.”26


The Statue of Atlas
Image Source

The Atlantic is named after Atlas of Greek mythology, also known as the “Sea of Atlas.” The term ocean was known to the Greeks as the waters beyond the Strait of Gibraltar. What little they knew of the world at the time, they believed the Atlantic Ocean to be a gigantic river encircling the world.27

We see Atlas is depicted as carrying the weight world on his shoulders. A Greek myth concerns Hercules’ theft of the Golden Apples, placing the giant, Atlas, and his task of supporting the weight of the world, at the “Pillars of Hercules” (or the Straits of Gibraltar).28


The Bible is not the only source to document the events of the flood. There is a vast repository of documented flood stories by ancient cultures worldwide, the more popular Epic of Gilgamesh being among them. While they vary in the details of the story, most of them carry the same theme: that there was a favored family who built a boat, the earth was flooded, and subsequently repopulated.

The people of Mesopotamia have stories which are similar in nature. Flood stories found in Mesopotamia and bordering lands refer to a flood within Mesopotamia and to a man from Mesopotamia who survived the flood in a boat.2

Sumer: Eridu Genesis

The Eridu Genesis was written on a Sumerian cuneiform tablet. Portions of the text have been lost, but can be partially reconstructed using other documents.29 Read the full Eridu Genesis excerpt.

“All the evil winds, all stormy winds gathered into one and with them, the Flood was sweeping over the cities of the half-bushel baskets, for seven days and seven nights. After the flood had swept over the country, after the evil wind had tossed the big boat about on the great waters, the sun came out spreading light over heaven and earth.”29

Babylonia: The Epic of Atrahasis

The Epic of Atrahasis is the most complete Mesopotamian account of the flood. In the final part of the epic, the gods begin to complain and refuse to work any longer. Mankind is created, but make so much noise that the gods decide to destroy them. The god Enki warns Atrahasis in a dream. Read the full Epic of Atrahasis excerpt.

“The outlook of the weather changed. [The storm god] Adad began to roar in the clouds. The god they heard, his clamor. He brought pitch to seal his door. By the time he had bolted his door, Adad was roaring in the clouds. The winds were furious as he set forth, He cut the mooring rope and released the boat.

… the storm … were yoked Anzu rent the sky with his talons, He … the land and broke its clamor like a pot. … the flood came forth. Its power came upon the peoples like a battle, one person did not see another, they could not recognize each other in the catastrophe. The deluge belowed like a bull, The wind resounded like a screaming eagle. The darkness was dense, the sun was gone, … like flies. the clamor of the deluge.”30

Babylonia: The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the more famous flood stories. A king named Gilgameš, is trying to find immortality and meets Ut-napištim. Ut-napištim tells Gilgameš how he survived the great flood.
It is very similar in to and sometimes an almost verbatim quotes from the Epic of Atrahasis.31 Ut-napištim would represent Noah. Read the full Epic of Gilgamesh excerpt.

“I went into the boat and sealed the entry. For the caulking of the boat, to Puzur-Amurri, the boatman, I gave the palace together with its contents. Just as dawn began to glow there arose from the horizon a black cloud. [the storm god] Adad rumbled inside of it, before him went Šhullat and Haniš [Sack and Suppression], heralds going over mountain and land. [The god of destruction] Erragal pulled out the mooring poles, forth went [the war god] Ninurta and made the dikes overflow.

The gods lifted up the torches, setting the land ablaze with their flare. Stunned shock over Adad’s deeds overtook the heavens, and turned to blackness all that had been light. He shattered the land like a raging bull, broke it into pieces like a pot. All day long the South Wind blew, blowing fast – and then the Flood came, overwhelming the people like an attack. No one could see his fellow, they could not recognize each other in the torrent. Even the gods were frightened by the Flood, and retreated, ascending to the heaven of Anu. The gods were cowering like dogs, crouching by the outer wall.

Six days and seven nights came the wind and flood, the storm flattening the land. When the seventh day arrived, the storm was pounding. She who had been struggling with itself like a woman writhing in labor, the sea, calmed; the whirlwind fell still; the flood stopped.”31

The Story From The Quran

The story of the Great Flood is told twice in the Quran, in Sura 11 and Sura 71.32 Read the full Story from the Quran excerpt.

“And it moved on with them amid waves like mountains; and Nuh called out to his son, and he was aloof: “O my son! embark with us and be not with the unbelievers. He said: ‘I will betake myself for refuge to a mountain that shall protect me from the water.’ Nuh said: ‘There is no protector today from Allah’s punishment but He Who has mercy; and a wave intervened between them, so he was of the drowned.’ And it was said: ‘O earth, swallow down your water, and O cloud, clear away”, and the water was made to abate and the affair was decided, and the ark rested on the al-Gudi, and it was said: “Away with the unjust people.'”32


1 Wikipedia, Sumerian King List (
2 Carol A. Hill, The Noachian Flood: Universal or Local?, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, pg 181, (
3 The Center For Online Judean Studies, “Weld-Blundell Prism, c. 1800 BCE”, (,_c._1800_BCE)
4 Jona Lendering, Sumerian King List, (
5 Wikipedia, “Black Sea”, Mediterranean connection during the Holocene, (
6 Sofia News Agency, “Black Sea Used to Be Freshwater Lake, Experienced Deluge – Scientists” (
7 Bible and Science Upon The Mountains of Ararat (, April 2005
8 Wikipedia, “Black Sea deluge hypothesis”, Evidence from archaeology (
9 Cosquer Cave, (
10 Cosquer Grotto, Harcourt School Publishers, (
11 Archaeology: Cave Beneath the Sea, (
12 Wikipedia, Irish Elk, (
13 Wikipedia, Great Sphinx of Giza, (
14 Wikipedia, Great Sphinx of Giza, ( Early Egyptologists were inconsistent in their transliteration of pharaonic names: Khafre and Khephren are, of course, both references to Khafra.
15 The Great Sphinx at The Global Education Project, (, retrieved 23 December 2008.
16 Archaeological Perspectives, The Egyptian Sphinx, (
17 Wikipedia, Sphinx water erosion hypothesis, (
18 Underwater Temples and Atlantis, (
19 Plato’s Critias (111b) (
20 Leon Flying Eagle & Mary Whispering Wind, THE GREAT ATLANTIS FLOOD “The ‘extraordinary inundation’ of the Empire of the Hellenes” (
21 Rob Butler, A brief history of the Messinian on Sicily, (
22 Wikipedia, Halite, (
23 Steven Earle, New insight into the Messinian salinity crisis, (
24 Wikipedia, Zanclean flood, (
25 World News Australia, “Dramatic flood filled Mediterranean Sea”, (
26 Tony O’Connell, Atlantipedia, Mediterranean Sea Level, (
27 Wikipedia, Atlantic Ocean, (
28 William Serfaty, The Pillars of the Phoenicians, Mythology (, 1997.
29 The Great Flood: the Eridu Genesis (
30 The Great Flood: the Epic of Atrahasis (
31 The Great Flood: the Epic of Gilgamesh (
32 The Great Flood: the Story from the Quran (

More Objections To A Local Flood

Why Didn’t God Just Tell Noah To Move?

Why did Noah have to spend 120 years building the ark if he could have just taken his family and moved out of the floodplain? There is no mention in the Genesis flood account that mentions Noah preaching to the people while he was building the ark. However, we do find in 2 Peter 2:5, that he is called a “Preacher of Righteousness.” In the New Testament, this particular Greek word (keryx) is used to mean God’s ambassador, and the herald or proclaimer of the divine word. Even if Noah did not preach to the people of the coming doom, building such a large boat would have thrown up a few flags among the people.

God gives man time and opportunity to repent. We see examples of this in the story of Sodom, where God sent angels to Sodom before it was destroyed (Genesis 19) and in reference to Jonah who was sent to warn Nineveh of their destruction. (Jonah 3:4) We also see this in Revelation 2:21 where God states, “I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent,” after which he pronounces judgement.

Didn’t God Say He Wouldn’t Destroy The Earth With A Flood Again?

Yes, so let’s look at what is meant by these verses. In Genesis 9:11, God tells Noah “I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.” And again in verse 15, “and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.” These verses are speaking of man; it is “all flesh” who will not be completely destroyed again by a flood. As we saw earlier, Psalm 104:9 stated that on the third creation day, God set the boundaries of the waters that they may not pass over, so that they would not return to cover the physical earth. The physical earth described in the second part of verse 11 was not destroyed, but man living upon it was. The judgement of man was global in is pronouncement over the portion of the earth where he lived.

Do You Have Any Objections?

Write your objections in the comments below and I’ll try to address them on this page.

The Genesis Flood: Global or Local?

There is a lot of debate in the religious communities as to whether the Genesis flood was local occurance or worldwide. Did Noah’s Ark sail above earth’s tallest mountains or just the regions highest hills? Did he bring two of every animal on earth on board the ark or just a native species? How could they have all fit? What about the water vapor canopy theory?


The idea of a global flood is supported by 1) the use of “universal” language used in Genesis 6-8, and 2) the interpretation of Genesis 2:5-6. Following the tenets of this theory is the belief that most of Earth’s sedimentary rocks and fossils were deposited over the face of the earth during the flood, when the fountains of the deep opened up and the earth shook. After which there was catastrophic tectonic plate shifts which caused the continents to spread apart and form, mountain ranges to spring up, sea floors to fall, and great canyons to be carved in the land all in a year’s time. This interpretation also suggests that there was a water vapor canopy over the earth that held a sizeable amount of water for it to rain for 40 days and nights.

The Water Vapor Canopy Theory

The water vapor canopy theory was first theorized by Henry Morris in the later half of the 20th century. In his book The Genesis Record (1976), Morris states,

“A worldwide rain lasting forty days would be quite impossible under present atmospheric conditions; so this phenomenon required an utterly different source of atmospheric waters than now obtains. This we have already seen to be the ‘waters above the firmament,’ the vast thermal blanket of invisible water vapor that maintained the greenhouse effect in the antediluvian world. These waters somehow were to condense and fall on the earth.”1

This canopy is also believed to have shielded the planet from harmful radiation which with its dispersal led to drastically reduced lifespans in the post-flood era.

Does The Bible Say It Ever Existed?

The theory is based on the interpretation of several passages.

Genesis 1:6-8, “Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven.”

So what is the expanse? The expanse (raqiya) is the same Hebrew word used to describe the area that the birds flew “above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens” in Genesis 1:20. Could birds have flown through this canopy of water? It is also the same expanse (raqiya) where God made the lights of the heavens (stars) visible to be for signs and seasons in Genesis 1:14. Was the canopy in outer space only to somehow condense and fall to earth during the flood? The expanse described here is merely talking about the atmosphere.

Genesis 7:11, “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.”

This sounds like supporting evidence, doesn’t it? The claim may hold water (no pun intended) if the same two Hebrew words “floodgates” (‘arubbah) and “sky” (shamayim) were not used elsewhere in the Bible post-flood. 2 Kings 7:19 states, “‘Now behold, if the LORD should make windows (‘arubbah) in heaven (shamayim), could such a thing be?'” and in Malachi 3:10 it states, “‘if I will not open for you the windows (‘arubbah) of heaven (shamayim) and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.'” The term floodgates of the sky, also interpreted windows of heaven, is referencing rain and possibly a great rain, but not a water vapor canopy.

and Genesis 2:5-6, “Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.”

Genesis 1 is the creation account, where God creates the heavens, earth, animals and man. Chapter 2 details the events that were taking place on the sixth day of creation with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden. Verse 5 states that there were no plants in Eden since he has not yet planted them there yet. We will see below that the Garden of Eden is believed to have been in the Mesopotamian region where there is very little rainfall, while Eden itself may have been so dry it never rained there.

The Scientific Challenge of the Canopy Theory

The theory loses even more support when it is scientifically analyzed. There are five main objections to the theory which cast serious doubt on its credibility: 1) the atmospheric pressure would be so great, that it would rival that of Venus,2 2) air can only hold a certain amount of water before it becomes saturated and begins to rain, 3) the affect of gravity on the water would cause it to fall to earth, 4) sunlight would be blocked, at least in part, from reaching earth’s surface, 5) and the temperature of the planet due to the ensuing “greenhouse effect” would be a stagering 220 degrees fahrenheit.3 These five variables would make for a rather flimsy and problematic theory.

Then How Do You Explain The Long Lifespans Before The Flood?

If there wasn’t a water vapor canopy then how can the long lifespans before the flood be explained? One writer suggests the answer lies in what is known as the Exponential Decay Curve. When organisms are exposed to a radiation source, they will die off at the same rate of decay that we see in the Biblical record.

The possible sources of this harmful radiation are cosmic rays and ultra-violet light. Both of which are suspected sources due to the fact that they damage living tissue and alter DNA to produce mutations. We know that cosmic rays reach earth because they have been measured in mines thousand of feet underneath earth’s surface.4

Recently scientists have discovered the shell of a very close supernova which is currently bombarding the earth with cosmic rays. What makes this supernova so deadly is the high amount of radiation being shed and its proximity, as opposed to most supernova that are so far away their effect is minimal. “In other words very recently in the last several thousand years the earth began to be bombarded with a more deadly type of cosmic rays from a nearby supernova.”4 Much lower levels of cosmic radiation would have existed prior to the flood, if the supernova had occurred in conjunction with it, allowing for a much more hospitable earth than we live in today. Along these same lines, the earth’s magnetic field (earth’s partial protection from radiation) and the sun’s magnetic field play a role in how much radiation can reach the surface of the planet.

A study was done recently that showed low doses of radiation can actually increase lifespan, presumably as would have been seen pre-flood.

“Acute subinhibitory low dose radiation (≤250 mGy) stimulates all components of the antimutagenic system, reducing the cumulative mutation load observed in aging, disease, and cancer. All statistically significant, adequately controlled epidemiologic studies of the public, medical cohorts, and occupational workers confirm low doses of radiation are associated with reduced mortality from all causes and decreased cancer mortality and may be protective against accidental high dose radiation. Low-dose body irradiation for cancer immunotherapy has been shown to be effective in rodents and humans. 5

Earth’s ozone layer is also a shielding layer against radiation – an invisible protective canopy of sorts. It has been noted that in the pre-flood era, the ozone layer was probably more substantial. This would have allowed for a greater atmospheric pressure, and increased amounts of oxygen concentration.6 In short, it would have had a similar effect as what has been found to occur in a barometric chamber: increased lifespan of the fruitfly by 3 generations, and accelerated growth of piranha fish – from 2″ to 16″ over a 2.5 years period.7 The evidence for this lies in the fossil record where very large reptile, mammals, and insects exist – such as the dragonfly which had a wingspan of 24″! The abundant supply of oxygen and greater pressure work hand in hand for delivering more oxygen into the body. This higher level of oxygen intake produces a more efficient body aerobically and metabolically.

A high-dose of radiation by cosmic rays to the ozone layer would have depleted this layer. Supernovas in the past have been associated with lowering the concentration of the upper atmospheric ozone.7 In fact we still see the ozone layer depleting today.


When we study the scriptures, we have to remember that what we are reading is a translation. Sometimes the passages accurately translate, while other times the translation lends itself to interpretation. Why should we look at the Hebrew text? There are only about 8,700 different ancient Hebrew words listed in Strong’s Concordance, while English is much more thorough at 171,476 words in current use, 47,156 obsolete words and around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries, according to the Oxford Dictionary.9 English tends to be more precise in communication, while Hebrew depends on context, and cultural and historical frames of reference to define the meaning of words.10 This is why there can be multiple meanings in English for a single word in Hebrew and why it is so important that we must look at the original Hebrew word and context to understand what the writer is trying to communicate to us.

Whole Land “kol ‘eretz”

The Hebrew word kol, meaning “whole” or “all”, and ‘erets, meaning “earth,” “land,” “territory,” “country,” or “ground” can refer to either the entire globe or more commonly to a region. Abraham was told to leave his ‘eretz and go to an ‘eretz which God would show him. Abraham was not an alien from another planet, nor would he have had a spaceship. It is the same word ‘eretz that is used to describe the “earth” in the Genesis flood account.

Example 1: The people of all (kol) the earth (‘erets) came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all (kol) the earth (‘erets). (Genesis 41:57)
Example 2: You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all (kol) through your land (‘erets). (Leviticus 25:9)
Example 3: For the battle there was spread over the whole (kol) countryside (‘erets), and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured. (2 Samuel 18:8)
Example 4: So when they had gone about through the whole (kol) land (‘erets), they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. (2 Samuel 24:8)

Planet Earth: “tebel”

The Hebrew word tebel used 36 times in the Old Testament also means earth, but when this word is used it is referring to the whole planet which we can see based on its context. This word is NOT used to describe the Genesis flood.

Example 1: He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, [and] lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set [them] among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth [are] the LORD’S, and he hath set the world (tebel) upon them. (1 Samuel 2:8)
Example 2: And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world (tebel) were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils. (2 Samuel 22:16)
Example 3: Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth (‘erets) and the world (tebel), even from everlasting to everlasting, thou [art] God. (Psalm 90:2)

Inhabited Earth: “adamah”

Now let’s look at the flood account in Genesis. Notice the addition of the Hebrew word ‘adamah used in this passage. This term specifically means “ground,” “territory,” “inhabited earth.”

Example 1: The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land (‘adamah), from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:7)
Example 2: “For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth (‘erets) forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land (‘adamah) every living thing that I have made.” (Genesis 7:4)
Example 3: Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land (‘adamah); (Genesis 8:8)
Example 4: The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground (‘adamah) on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done. (Genesis 8:21)


Genesis 7:20 reads, “The water prevailed fifteen cubits higher, and the mountains were covered.” Mt. Everest stands at about 29,000 feet above sea level today. The global flood theory suggests that Mt. Everest grew to this height during the flood in just one year – due to major earthquakes caused by extremely fast continental drift. From Genesis 7:19, we see that the mountains existed before the flood, not created in a catastrophic uprising. The water level rose to cover the mountains, not the mountains came forth out of the water. Let’s look at a couple other possibilities.

The Hebrew word for higher in this verse is (ma’al), meaning “above” or “upwards.” So what were the flood waters fifteen cubits upward of? Let’s take a look at what is meant by the word mountain. The word here is the Hebrew word (har), meaning “hill,” “mountain,” “hill country.” The ancient Mesopotamians also considered their temples (ziggurats) to be mountains in reference to the flat plains of Mesopotamia. They called them “E. kur,” which in Sumerian means “house of the mountain” or “mountain house.”11 So were the flood waters fifteen cubits above Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain on earth? Noah could not see Mt. Everest and could not make this claim. Were they the high hills which surrounded the land or were they the ziggurat temple mounds? Whichever mountain top it was, Noah had to be able to measure to the tops of them from the floating ark above in order to claim he was fifteen cubits higher than they were.

So How Did Noah Measure 15 Cubits Above The Mountains?

So how did Noah measure the mountains; did he have a ruler? It may be valid to say that Noah didn’t measure them at all. When God told Noah how big to make the ark, he told him it was to be thirty cubits tall. This thirty cubits was from the underbelly of the boat to the very top. We know that the ark floated freely on the water during the flood (Genesis 7:17-18), and the water had to rise to a certain point before the ark became buoyant. The ark would have become buoyant when the waters reached about fifteen cubits deep. Noah would have known the measurement because the ark could traverse the mountains in the region and the ship’s underbelly not get caught and strike them as they floated by.

One researcher claims that Noah may have measured the high hills or “mountains” by using a rod or pole. “In riverboats of that day, people used rods or poles to measure water depth.”12 If Noah used this method to measure the peaks of the mountains, such as Mt. Ararat (at 17,000 feet), the surges and waves created from the rapidly growing mountains would have made it difficult to get this reading, let alone trying to keep the mountain still while trying to measure it! Also in question would be finding the highest mountain on the planet to go and measure it… I doubt he was given the gift of GPS and dropping anchor on the peak of Mt. Everest or Mt. Ararat would have been a feat.

Distance To The Horizon

How far would Noah had to have been from the horizon to see the mountains covered? Here’s a calculation done by Answers In Creation to help explain the distance.

“Our starting point is Noah. He was on the ark, which had a height of about 45 feet. Accounting for a 20 foot draft for the ark, Noah was perhaps 25 feet above the water’s surface. If he were six feet tall, Noah would be about 6.82 miles from the horizon. By contrast, the horizon for a 100 foot tall hill would be about 12.25 miles. Adding these two horizon distances together, Noah would have to be 19.07 miles from a 100 foot tall hill in order not to see it. Other landmass heights are calculated below.13

Reference Point
Noah (31 Feet tall)
100 foot hill
1,000 foot hill
3,000 foot hill
One Mile hill

6.82 miles

Horizon + Noah’s Horizon


Looking at the “earth” from the eyes of Noah, he would have seen a one mile high mountain disappear as the flood waters rose from a distance of less than 100 miles on a clear day. Visibility would also decrease depending on atmospheric conditions, such as rain.


In a global flood scenario, every animal we know today would have been affected by the flood waters. This includes both land animals, who would face certain death by drowning and water dwelling animals who would suffer from either too much or too little salinity. If this was a regional flood, only the local species needed to be taken on the ark so they can repopulate the area after the flood. Water dwelling species would not have been affected by the salt/fresh water change of the ocean.

Land Animals

The earth currently has somewhere between 1.5 to 6 million species of animals, so how did all these animals fit on the ark?14 To be fair, the Bible does not say every species, but the animals after their kind. If we’re to assume that the DNA of today has so multiplied that several species of animals are considered one kind (i.e. there are a large amount dog varieties, but all are still considered dogs), then this reduces the number of animals that would have had to have been on the ark. Noah didn’t have to take one of each variety, but one of each “kind.” The Bible also states which animals he was to take, further limiting the term “kind.” The animals specified were cattle, fowls, creeping things (reptiles and other things that creep, possibly insects). All of these animals are native to Mesopotamia. The Bible calls for two of the unclean animals and seven of the clean, both male and female (fourteen clean animals in all). This is of course assuming that clean and unclean meant the same thing in Noah’s time as it did when God gave Moses the Law. Clean animals are considered sheep, cows, and goats. Unclean would be animals such as pigs, camels, badgers, and gazelles.15 Considering the different kinds of animals in the Mesopotamian region, where we can assume a local flood, then the number of animals ranges in the hundreds. This number seems more probable than the millions supposed by the global flood theory.

Also to consider is that Noah and his family of 7 (wife, 3 sons and their wives), would have had to take care of all these animals. Not only would they need to feed them, but pick up after them as well. The smell of the creatures and their excrement must have been strong after considering the congested quarters and time they were on the ark. Storage for the animals and for themselves for this time period would have been necessary as well. Again, a few hundred animals seems much more likely. Food type would also have been an issue. Certain animals around the world only eat certain food. Take the panda who eats eucalyptus leaves. Would Noah have had to travel thousands of miles to gather food to satisfy the needs of the specific animals? All of these factors make a local flood scenario much more likely. Once the animals disembarked, they would have easily repopulated the region they were from.

Water Animals

The global flood theory says that during the flood there was massive amounts of sedimentary rock being layed, such as that found on Mt. Everest during the flood… in less than 1 year. Geologists who have studied the sedimentary layers of rock found in the Grand Canyon do not support a massive laying of the layers.16 The sediments take a long time to be layed in the order it was done. Also, this quick laying of sediments would have been a problem for the species that live on the bottom of the ocean as it would have covered and killed them. Also in question is the amount of water pressure that additional amounts of water would have caused on the Marine life, making their living environment inhospitable. Perhaps an even more puzzling scenario is how did marine life adapt to the quickly changing salinity in the water? Fish and other sea creatures live in specific salinities that are necessary for life to survive. If you put a fresh water fish into salt water, it will die and same with the salt water fish if put into fresh water. If this were a local flood, marine life would have been able to survive such a disaster.


The way Genesis describes the receding of the waters presents yet another problem for a global flood interpretation. In Genesis 8:13-14, three times it mentions the water had been dried up from the earth and it being completely dry. If we were to translate the word earth in the same way that a global flood interpretation of the previous chapters allows, this would imply that the earth to be devoid of water, to be completely dry. This is obviously an incorrect interpretation of these verses as we have plenty of evidence of water that still exists. Planet earth did not become a desert planet. It should be suggested that the water being dried from the earth (‘erets) was again a local occurance.

The Wind of God

We also have to ask the question of where the waters receded to. The global theory says that the earth, which was relatively flat before the flood, grew mountains and the valleys sunk down. This would seem to explain where the water went to, except this makes void the purpose of God sending a wind to make the waters retreat. In Genesis 8:1 it states, “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.” Does this sound like the act of wind building mountains? The wind would have pushed the flood waters off the land to dry the ground. We’ll look at this more later when we look at a pooible location for where the flood could have been.


Psalm 104, also known as the “creation psalm”, follows the same order as the creation account described in Genesis 1.

Other verses referenced below also show parts of the creation account that correspond with the psalm. What becomes apparent is that this is not talking about the time after the flood, but the first, second and part of the third day of creation. Interestingly verse 9 points out that on the third creation day, God has set the boundary for the water that it shall not cross over the land again. It is also reiterated in Proverbs 8:29, Jeremiah 5:22, and Job 38:8-11.

Psalm 104

Other Verses

Covering Yourself with light as with a cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. (verse 2)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  (Gen 1:1)

Who alone stretches out the heavens and tramples down the waves of the sea; (Job 9:8)

He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind; (verse 3)

The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens and has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, He who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth, the LORD is His name. (Amos 9:6)

He makes the winds His messengers, Flaming fire His ministers. (verse 4)

He established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter forever and ever. (verse 5)

Of old You founded the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. (Psalm 102:25)

You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands; (Hebrews 1:10)

(Isaiah 48:13), (Isaiah 51:13), (Isaiah 51:16), (Zechariah 12:1)

You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains. (verse 6)

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)

When He established the heavens, I was there, when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above, when the springs of the deep became fixed, (Proverbs 8:27-28)

(Genesis 1:7), (Proverbs 30:4), (Job 38:9)

At Your rebuke they fled, at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away. (verse 7)

Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. (Genesis 1:9)

He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses. (Psalm 33:7)

The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which You established for them. (verse 8 )

God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:10)

To Him who spread out the earth above the waters, for His lovingkindness is everlasting; (Psalm 136:6)

You set a boundary that they may not pass over, so that they will not return to cover the earth. (verse 9)

When He set for the sea its boundary so that the water would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth; (Proverbs 8:29)

For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea, an eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it. Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail; Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it. (Jeremiah 5:22)

“Or who enclosed the sea with doors when, bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop’? (Job 38:8-11)


When we read about the Genesis flood, it is important that we remember what the purpose of the flood was – to wipe the “earth” clean of the wicked people whose hearts were continually filled with evil. Does it really matter whether the Noah’s Ark story was a global or local event? Only in that it adds credibility to the Bible. Science and the Bible work in harmony together, not against each other for God created science and uses it to show the works of his hands to us. The purpose of the story in that the judgement of man was global, whether the flood was or not.

If you’d like, give this a try: Read the Genesis flood account again, but this time without preconceptions and keeping the information above in mind.


1 Creation Wiki, Encyclopedia of Creation Science, “Canopy Theory” (
2 8D. F. Siemens, “More Problems with Flood Geology,” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 44, no. 4 (1992): 231.
3 Rich Deem, Evidence For God, “The Water Vapor Canopy Theory Why the Bible (And Science) Says It is False” (
4 Arnold Mendez, The Scientific Evidence For Biblical Longevity, “Background Stellar Radiation” (
5 Pollycove M. Feinendegen LE. Biologic responses to low doses of ionizing radiation: detriment versus hormesis-part 2 dose responses of organisms. Journal of Nuclear Medicine. Newsline. 42:9:26N-37N. 2001.
6 Arnold Mendez, The Scientific Evidence For Biblical Longevity, “Increased Atmospheric Pressure and Oxygen Concentration” (
7 Arnold Mendez, The Ozone Shield, “Increased Atmospheric Pressure and Oxygen Concentration” (
Keelynet, “Dr. Baugh & the Pre-Flood Environment” (, 3/31/2001
8 A.J. Monty White, Ph.D., Answers, “Flood Legends,” The Significance of a World of Stories Based on Truth (, March 29, 2007
9 Oxford Dictionaries, “How many words are there in the English language?” (
10 Dennis Bratcher, The Voice, “Hebrew and Aramaic Terms Word Meanings for Old Testament Study” (
11 M. A. Beek, Atlas of Mesopotamia (London: Nelson, 1962), map 8; M. Roaf, “Palaces and Temples in Ancient Mesopotamia,” in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, ed. J. M. Sasson (New York: Charles
Scribners, 1995), 425.
12 3G. F. Bass, “The Earliest Seafarers in the Mediterranean and the Near East,” in A History of Seafaring Based on Underwater Archaeology, ed. G. F. Bass (New York: Walker, 1972), 12.
13 Greg Neyman, Old Earth Creation Science Where Was the Flood of Noah?, “Requirements for the Location of the Flood” (, May 12, 2007
14 H. Ross, “Noah’s Floating Zoo,” Facts and Faith 4 (1990): 4.
15 Carol A. Hill, The Noachian Flood: Universal or Local?, (